Why Does Social Security Ask About Your Work History When You File For Disability?

Posted on: 22 July 2019

The application process for Social Security Disability benefits can seem daunting -- and just when you think you've finished all the forms, more start coming in the mail. One of those forms asks about your prior work history, in detail, over the last ten years of your life prior to becoming disabled.

Why does any of it matter? Here's what's happening and why you have to be both careful and specific when answering the Social Security Administration's (SSA) questions about your past jobs:

Your Prior Work Gives SSA Insight Into the Limits of Your Disability

One of the things that SSA tries to determine is whether or not a disability applicant has the physical and mental capacity to return to any of his or her prior occupations. Only those held in the last ten years are considered, but the disability examiner will look carefully at your job duties and compare them with the restrictions posed by your condition.

If the disability examiner determines that you were aren't "too disabled" to return to any of your former jobs in that ten-year period, your disability claim will be denied. That's the reason it is very important to be extremely specific not only about your physical and mental limitations but also about the requirements of the jobs you've held. You want to make it abundantly clear exactly why you can't go back to your old jobs.

Your Prior Work History Also Tells SSA If You Have Transferable Skills

Whatever profession you had, you may have developed skills that SSA considers "transferable" to other jobs. Some of those jobs may not require as much physical or mental exertions. If your transferable skills are enough to qualify you for a different type of work -- even though you've never done it before -- SSA can still deny your claim.

For example, maybe you worked as a paralegal in a law firm, handling dozens of cases and keeping track of papers, documents, reports, and phone calls from clients. Your disability now prevents you from working in a high-stress environment like that -- but SSA may decide your typing skills and people skills are still good enough to allow you to work in a call-center for customer service.

Again, this is why you need to be particularly clear on your Social Security Disability application about your limitations. You need to keep in mind exactly why SSA is asking the type of questions they are asking and how they can put together different pieces of information that you give them in order to deny your claim. A Social Security Disability attorney, like those at Attorney John B. Martin Law Offices, has the experience and foresight needed to help you avoid these kinds of pitfalls in a disability claim and can often prevent clients from making critical mistakes on their paperwork.